Athletes Who Protest Are Patriots

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by Stan Van Gundy,

from TIME Magazine,

I do not claim to be an expert on race in America. But in addition to working to be an informed citizen and learning about the issues that derive from race, I have been coaching for about 20 years in the NBA, a league that is 75% black. I have been in a unique position to hear from players and staff members about the issues they and their families have had to encounter. In a time where bigotry seems on the rise and commitment to racial equality on the decline, I have an obligation as a citizen to speak out and to support, in any way possible, those brave and patriotic athletes who are working to bring change to our country. I believe all of us do.

After reading the book Tears We Cannot Stop; A Sermon to White America, I invited its author, the acclaimed scholar and expert on race Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, to come talk to our team. He discussed the difference between nationalism and patriotism, and it stuck with me. Nationalism, he said, is supporting your country no matter what, right or wrong. Patriotism, on the other hand, is caring so deeply about your country that you take it as your duty to hold it accountable to its highest values and to fight to make it the very best it can be. Under this definition, these athletes and coaches are role models of American patriotism.

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